I Am Counted
by Joanne Lowery

We were masses crowding behind the gate.
How many was of no interest to us,
our minds leap-frogging over a field of heads
in the hope of returning to the world.

But they—they—wanted to quantify.
Because we were large and dirty and jerky
who could say where one of us
left off and a cousin began.

So they fenced our fenced area in half
with an aperture to connect.
As we slipped through, a piece of corn
for each of us fell into a red bowl.

When only two people separated me from my turn
I could feel my heart tighten.
Then I was there: a yellow tooth
tapering to a blunt moon point.

See how easy it was? Later
they could count just the kernels.
I would slide down the crimson slope
proud to be my own number.

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